Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on The Return of George Washington  CSPAN  March 23, 2016 12:20am-1:13am EDT

12:20 am
revealing new correspondence has been uncovered. i think some of revealing material i found has been jefferson's notes on conversations. washington tended to hold informal cabinet meetings but to talk to members individually. jefferson was the exception. as soon as the conversation was done. particularly when washington started complaining about
12:21 am
how he was feeling worn out and tired, freight his memory was going. jefferson would say tell me more. their relationship has been studied quite a bit. there has been a lot written about it. but it was clearly a nuanced relationship. the men respect each other. we tended to focus on the points of division. i saw flaws in china. when he feels jefferson was made a promise when he feels he broke the promise washington takes a personal.
12:22 am
his own diary which is interesting. >> a big round. >> the conversation that came out. good research to be done. i great storehouse. hindered -- younger graduate students.
12:23 am
now, like washington and get paid for doing this tonight. yeah. so, that means you can help out. do that in an orderly fashion.
12:24 am
>> don't even have to read it. >> when i tune in on the weekend's authors sharing and knew releases.
12:25 am
>> the best television for serious readers. >> they can have a longer conversation delve in. >> author after author after author. >> now, the return of george washington. this is just under an hour. this is just under an hour. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
12:26 am
>> good afternoon. my name is adam kushner on the editor of the "washington post" sunday outlook section which is our weekly section for analysis and essays and commentary and arguments in narrative storytelling and investigative journalism and most happily for this day and nonfiction books are rich. "washington post" is a charter sponsor for the national book festival which is in its 15th year, amazing and i'm extremely excited to introduce today eric larson. i can't believe i follow that. the endowed chair of law at pepperdine and a fault university professor. the professor has nine books and he won the pulitzer prize for his book summer of the gods which is about the scopes trial
12:27 am
and error and less never-ending still disputed date and -- debate in america about science and its role in policy. i also noticed the seamlessly endless list of publications he has written for. the outlook session is not one of them so that's something we have decided to fix news latest book is "the return of george washington" and what's great about it is to take the figure we know very well for his role in fighting the brith and for being the first president and looks at the lesser-known part of his life which is his retirement between those events. after the war the nation faced a crisis on the articles of confederation and it needed the constitution many of the fractious parties can come together, didn't trust one another and needed somebody to whom they could look as the convening power. this book is a great book about
12:28 am
that period and/or minds is that washington contributions were not merely fighting the british or beginning the nation but he was instrumental all the way through and talk about that. i want to welcome please edward larson. [applause] >> thank you all. it is such an incredible delight to be back at this particular book festival. it's wonderful for me already. i just came up for the one with maryanne robinson and what a delight that was. what a wonderful speaker, what a wonderful crowd in what great questions. one of the thing things she was asked at the end because she works out of iowa. she is not a midwesterner by birth but she works out of the iowa book festival and she was asked, she writes about midwesterners and she was asked
12:29 am
what makes midwesterners distinctive and unique and what is the character she sees. she said the lack of pretentiousness and i'm from the midwest. i grew up there and i said yeah that's true that's just like me and i realized i must no longer deemed westerner. i lost my own characteristic because you're you are not supposed to pride yourself on the lack of attention as this. that's like the person who won the humility award and every time he writes about it they took it away. before that, what a treat that was, what a wonderful speaker, even a better speaker than he is a writer and we all know he's a great writer. he's a wonderful conversationalist. before that the launch of this book and that was a very interesting event too. she was telling us how one of her tricks was a little bit of
12:30 am
one of mine too, that she liked, she had to go to some pretty exciting places. and she showed a lot of pictures so what a wonderful treat it is to be here. but i thought i would do, not and then i >> since he was not from the of midwest he said he is the
12:31 am
greatest political actor he has ever seen and he could not. of his moststure or a motion and one of the most famous such acts occurred is when the troops after yorktown so the british are still occupying the york. because ington's main army because the british ad effectively it could if
12:32 am
stopped the war so there is no money to pay the troops so that was one of the earlier stories i could tell watching from yorktown to become president so he makes an appearance where they are plotting a revolts. he makes a speech because he had false teeth so he sorts of mumbled but he was effective so he worked in one bit of acting in the middle so he pulled it out a letter it pretended he could not read it. some people doubt his glasses and said i have not
12:33 am
only grown gray a disservice by also gone nearly blind. nobody had seen him with glasses before so that humanized him and the troops begin to cry and they felt he was really for them and that more than anythingerg effused the coup d'etat made it for washington to to not to become keen and that isel what made him so loved and set the tone for american think of all the revolutions that ended with the leader erkhart -- becoming a dictator like napoleon or, all.e
12:34 am
aulard cromwell. part of that is the willingness and to live on the fumes of the founding fathers of the great bin and great people who set thehe tone. li that is why in africa today because mandela set a tone it was in justin embedded team of people but he pulled out the glasses that i havece gone blind in the service of history. but it begins on the chillye spring morning as i sat
12:35 am
watching the sun rise slowly over the potomac river the upstairs bedroom was over my white blood dash right soldier -- shoulder washington has seen this same attitude to vendor 25 years earlier knowing it would be a long time before he observed it begin. he was preparing to leave r his beloved plantation onse april 16, 1789. the wan that washington most loved virtually unchanged with urban sprawl. for the study of george washington and was able to enjoy this and other sceness
12:36 am
don his plantation over the course of the year. the view was my favorite especially the sun rise in the spring when they gave off a warm glow in the early morning light. washington was reluctant to leave will vernon -- mount vernon. said shearson's the united states washington and had come to believe it faced asav great a threat from the internal forces as anmi external ones of tierney. when he accepted leadership of the patriot army on the outset of the war now again the call in his service as the elected leader of the first extended republic.books to
12:37 am
callous books tell his story during the american as many rel revolution indeed books about washington could fill a library. a few of them focus as one of the subject of my last book. washington even those biographers talk about the interlude with his life as a virginia planter, with david to the constitutional conventionlly prt they presented as a stiff and silent figure this standard narrative to the ratification debates intel called to the presidency. with this book i tell a story of the resignation of
12:38 am
commander in chief not meaning to diminish i stress day political leader during those crucial years between the end of the revolutionary war in the start of theer federal government in i promise that is all i will read. that is from the preface it is not called the introduction as all opening parts of the book should be distinguished. if you get a book you read it? how many of you read the introduction? how many don't? how many don't read the preface? just a fair warning, you
12:39 am
should never skip the introduction that is an integral part of the book. the book doesn't make sense without reading the introduction it sets the stage and includes the dramatic interrogation of the trial in contrast you can skip the preface. but you don't need to. by definition it is central to the book is usually tells you something about the book or about the author and often includes acknowledgments as well if you can skip those. although the author should never skip the acknowledgments. [laughter]
12:40 am
so i read from the preface not the introduction. so what does it tell about me as anuthor and the book? so briefly what does this say about me as a doctor? that i like to be on-site. and i like to use archives. i tried to get a feel for the person through the archives and working on site.
12:41 am
i would go up to date in tennessee has anybody been i wouldn tennessee? i would put upon the of visitation list and it to the historian and hasn't changed much is encrustein time. so i could be in the courtroom i could hear the train go by. with william m. jennings bryan son.
12:42 am
said to go to the home of the boarding house and by that i could get a feel a gore this summer when it was hot it is still didn't have a lot of air conditioning when i was there. old but that seems thermometer s that was there that help me to get a feel from the place. and from the galapagos islands. i got to go dozens of times to the galapagos islands.ntists
12:43 am
and then they got to go down three months to go over those early explorers.antarctic. but i prefer those galapagos islands. this baby the perfect book because mount vernon is a tremendous force. way that are the same way that t captures thomas jefferson. it was a modest building if you read george mason's house.
12:44 am
to head he blew out the size and the top.nding grains he built the bill to ride to the grade of -- the gradient his resourcefulness and 20 to break from the controly. the controlled by the british. and didn't want to be under the control of the british. you can get a feel of a very complicated person. th to have the archives of his writings and his papers and
12:45 am
the also always preserved the lead jersey and the notebooks. if you had false teeth as they were made back then hee had wanted his own teeth and that is another thing you can see. it would be like thebe original bed he guided in the pictures that he saw he had won two of his own and it would rest on this one molar as the anchor the you could tell wasn't acred very well. but couldn't speak well publicly but he could write.e to buy hundreds and hundreds dig deep i and with the
12:46 am
archives to following he is doing every day and who was visiting him? and that was very telling. that is gone think that it shows. what i did with this book, i tried to pick a book or a topic that people think they go all lot about but their wisdom is off kilter. up perfect example you can
12:47 am
see spencer tracy but really doesn't tell the trial to say it was really about theer latria as a vehicle. it is very different. i was the first historian to writes a trial -- a book about the trial. ha nobody ever brought historical technique.rite a new in to write a new account in a surprise then be deaf to get an award for the book that is what i try to do with the books with the galapagos i write other they
12:48 am
in darwin did it help to make it much more be distract. and there really wasn't fundamental for that period a unit of antarctica. in the 1800 elections no one had ever tried to write this story of the 1800's election up atoms verses jefferson. with the narrative of the whites and that is what i tried to do instead of a broad historical perspective so i look for gaps. later
12:49 am
other people did take a top -- a topic everybody doesn't tell it better than ever was told before but i need to have the a vintage that plays to my specialty of history of science or legal or constitutional historye for something to committee have food to read all beforeat so i have the a vintage. had to do that about george washington? gore have been written about him than any american lived one time i was introduced a few months ago the person had done some research that there was over 10,000 books that had george washingtonwa did the title but the surprising thing is people
12:50 am
i have been a this period. i have been a history teacher for years it everybody who's a teacher will go the same story review cover american in history if you have a whole semester washington is all over the place than a couple of days on the utter collapse of the confederation in you and why it did not work the inability to raise funds the articles of confederation created a friendship among
12:51 am
13 states it each of thoseal thi from the external threat tried to make life better for their people at the expense of two? you compete against your brothers and sisters gazelle's don't compete against the lions they compete against other gazelles that is how survival of the fittest works so york was doing whatever it could to better itself by putting up tariffs going through new york harbor to export taxes to new jersey and connecticut and still want to do that today. that is the problem with europe they are still acting that way greece wants to play in a country wants to play in germany they're all competing for their all short-term gain and that was happening in america and
12:52 am
nobody was making anybody. -- any many but we don't hereabouts washington what he chose to create to step away from power so we have to repeat that story so we saw no burden tending his farm and the constitution convention happens with the ratification re-read the federalist administration and then they are all over the place. so what happens? fate of through washingtonwa and was with the most famousmo
12:53 am
and beloved person perhaps it in the world. against the british navy just the values of liberty human freedom? other than a monarchy? in the americas at that time. and he was not modest about that. to say what do i want?
12:54 am
but he did not really care about monday he did take care about power. he said what i want is to be famous. now that is more a legacy with the first extended republic to hearken back for any precedents. and given the status to siteg there in uniform? every leading american do.
12:55 am
by what made america the in america youthe frontier. he didn't have the choices but in america because it could escape from servitude to becoming a millionaire and a scientist and the key were m the frontier is always pushing west.chians because t they built this wall and said it cannot go past that.ey e in the states were focused aware they were. would use in hs
12:56 am
president obeid was defending that. or if they can call that a government to always be steering. but that was not true. he was deeply involved. and they were all lost. because the centralfrontier.
12:57 am
government with pennsylvania or georgia. id to change that that they would trade with the british but did use the same guns against the sellers. and the americans pushed back kid had taken back much of georgia into the areas of western virginia and pennsylvania and washington's own agent to v scalped had roasted alive? and washington itself during this period and then to visit a bed to sleep under
12:58 am
the stars.erson, and but then the second or third sign of a moderately wealthy person.t get to son to look at the holdings because he was a warrant the native americans are waiting in rand would hold him for ransom or worse. he cannot get to his holdings. and there was an effective government to protect his property or his investments. plh
12:59 am
so what sort of future do we have to open the west? didn't the closing years of the revolution to plan the future he produces a circular letter to the states redevelops a player open t and to open the fruitier and make them into states. get his n there was no effective control over interstate commerce. so we think hamilton worryving . but jefferson as well had it
1:00 am
with the everyday and they are filled with these concerns. during this period to carefully read his letters and who was visiting nationalist erted you wouldd see it was a virtual crossroads and he was communicating with the hamilton san john hancock had to those in south carolina. all the people were visiting in hand spending time planning for a fee should in a unified country better to live the the selfhood ispo received after go through n atlanta so during this in
1:01 am
period he was the atlanta airport of the movement in the month leading up to the constitutional convention we hear in james madison was the architect where did hes do that? had a whole but at mount vernon and. live eight there is the rookie was stayed. to plot out with the new government had to have. you can see washington writing letters after the convention started to take shape. hit to james madison danowski into law the state
1:02 am
governments that has to hold the power of taxation to aggressively opened thee frontier. to defend us against european and powers for what is necessary and hamilton gets a rock music opera. [laughter] but they also realized of what was characteristic in this period.
1:03 am
they he was a great listener. for every battle and would listen to all of and how should we handle the brandywine? and then collectively pull those together and the cabinet is nowhere in the constitution and but to call the leaders together. remember doris kerns goodwinwasi
1:04 am
did she would talk about that was the big about washington deep-rooted jefferson and hamilton to docks so talk about a team of rivals. and he would listen to the ball. and they all recognized he had great wisdom about was of the brightest journalist a technically research pursued sir did not sayhe policy won't. to have deficit clear goals to create similar peect you you'd that could be respected abroad to create
1:05 am
prosperity at home because of the competition between the states. that is what everybody released before. but that is what he believed ms in and so he would listen to others. panera john j. was up closeou complement. solar drying all those ideas would be got the letters back to my avertin. with the summary from the
1:06 am
letters he had received into a single written summary. had the constitution was like a summary it didn't look like what madison wanted. so they would get their way like the guarantee for the lower federal court. and the president would be chosen by commerce. and but was coming from the small states had as long as the fundamental goals were
1:07 am
reached to get results. if you look at the record washington is almost invisible. what we have is madison dotes -- notes and the presiding officer just today the speakeker cannot speak. does that leave that he is not ready in the house of representatives? the speaker is start running? it happens in a different winner. is to work out the compromise is.n would have all
1:08 am
and then working very closely with benjamin franklin and those who read that closely there is some truth to that but washington would sit there with the great compromise so everybody gets to members ofof the senator cohosh -- so the house of representatives is proportional they lacked the said then they elect the president if that is pushed back because the big statestione to control the house of
1:09 am
representatives.s. that is truly a compromise to get around slavery. and that is why it has cop that is what was what pennsylvania was pushing for.r. but that leaves the small states out and harms the southern states but if you use the electoral college now they get more votes but also they get a disproportionate votes it is all a compromise it tended
1:10 am
to be the rube goldberg. or ben franklin and and then handed it off better coming from a small state had his day. thes buchanan looked back at the always cal and the person offering the compromise and washington would call them first. so if madison was thee architect said george washington was a general contractor. said to put an addition of,
1:11 am
house and that is what i get to tease out along with others end did a lot do with a load that we now know was a more perfect union.motivationd >> what motivation did he have?inental -- d when he will genre he would write in later it is for up
1:12 am
legacy. during the confederation in period period which he wrote in 1782. and he wanted at that time for the enlightenment. when people were glorify god. is the belief people queued make a difference. the lead in that sense humans can make a, difference.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on